Change your thinking, Change your life

Stuttgart Church

Right, so let’s hit the ground running. First blog post.

I’ll be tweaking things a lot in the upcoming weeks, but right now,let’s just start with getting things up and running.

European living can come as quite a shock to the system, but if you keep an open mind, you’ll find you adapt quite quickly. Hell, after a while some things actually make a lot of sense.

But first, you’re going to have to change your way of thinking a little bit.

I’d like to share a quick story of our first day here, which really gave me an understanding right off the bat.

We had just landed in Stuttgart in May of 2011. We fit all of our belongings, a 3 year old child, and two very pissed off cats into a BMW 5 series, and head to our hotel where we would be staying for the next 30 days while we looked for a house to rent.

Unfortunately, the hotel didn’t allow cats. They had no problem with dogs (you’ll find that dogs are welcome EVERYWHERE in Germany – in restaurants, supermarkets, on trains… but cats are another story). So we needed an option for boarding them.

Fortunately, we found an excellent pet boarder at Care Royal  – it was about a half hour north of Stuttgart, in a little village that looked like it was out of a postcard. I’d find out that the boarding house was actually an old castle (there once was even a moat!) I was greeted warmly by the owner, who introduced himself as Prince Nikolaus.

“Prince”, I said out loud. “That’s funny”. Castle – Prince, I get it.

“Yes, but it is also true.” he said with a smile.

“Really!” I exclaimed. “But… why… this?”

“Well, Princes must pay the bills as well.”

After I put my foot in my mouth, we did the paperwork. I pulled out my wallet to pay him a deposit.

“Do you want a deposit?” I asked.

“No, I trust you. Just pay when you pick up the cats.”

That blew me away. He trusts me? He doesn’t even know me.

But that’s exactly how people are out in Germany. They play by the rules, and live their lives trusting that you will as well. In other words, it’s exactly the opposite of the United States.

And then as I looked around for the next few days, I saw just how much that was true. The autobahn – people drive at breakneck speeds, knowing that everyone else around them will follow the rules of the road.

The metro stations, none of them have any turnstiles. You purchase your ticket, and you get on. They trust that you’ll buy a ticket with the correct fare.

You might think of the Germans as uptight and rigid, but on the other hand, try to imagine a society where everyone follows the rules. It allows for some pretty awesome living.